MARTIN, William, of Dorchester and Winterbourne St. Martin, Dorset.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
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Sept. 1397

Family and Education

yr. and illegit. s. of Sir Robert Martin of Athelhampton, Dorset, by Agnes, da. of Nicholas Montfort. m. (1) by 1391, Alice; (2) Joan.

Offices Held


Hardly any trace of Martin has survived in contemporary records, and, given his obscurity and illegitimacy it seems strange that he should ever have been chosen to represent a county in Parliament. He is first mentioned in 1358 when Sir Robert Martin conveyed the manors of Brown and Shepton (Somerset) to Agnes, daughter of Nicholas Montfort, with remainder to the sons she had borne him, Richard and William. Sir Robert subsequently married Agnes, and in 1365 he caused his manors of Walterston and Pulston (Dorset) to be settled in tail-male, with successive remainders, on their sons Robert, Richard and William, at the same time disposing of his manor of Athelhampton in such a way that after his own death it should pass to one of these three in preference to any lawful issue he might have by her. It seems, however, that Sir Robert’s plans were disregarded, for when he died, in 1375, his sons were held to be illegitimate, and his true heir was found to be his great-nephew John Gouvitz. Over the years the Martin brothers brought several lawsuits to gain their inheritance, and William may have eventually come into possession of the lands recovered by his brother Robert, after the latter’s death in 1403. Meanwhile, his mother had married William Canynges*, the Bristol merchant, and in 1378 the manor of Winterbourne St. Martin had been settled on them for life with successive remainders in tail to William, Richard and Robert Martin. As William’s widow was later holding this manor, it seems likely that he did acquire it some time after Canynges’s death in 1396. Otherwise, he was involved in a conveyance of land in Stogorsey (Somerset) in 1391, witnessed a deed at Dorchester in 1401, and by 1415 was occupying property which had once belonged to his father, situated in South Street, in the same county town.1

It was probably this William Martin who attended the parliamentary elections for Dorset in 1410 and for Somerset in 1421 (May). Meanwhile, on 5 July 1412, he had been pardoned his outlawry arising from a plea of debt brought by a Dorset incumbent. He died before 1428.2

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421


  • 1. Some Som. Manors (Som. Rec. Soc. extra ser. 1931), 63-64; Som. Feet of Fines (ibid. xvii), 147; Dorchester Recs. ed. Mayo, 145, 204; Dorset Feet of Fines, 110, 187-8; Feudal Aids, ii. 67; JUST 1/1502 mm. 62, 63, 1519 m. 37d; CIPM, xiv. 268. The account in J. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 582, 861, is confused.
  • 2. C219/10/5, 12/5; CPR, 1408-13, p. 342.